Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park

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Blendon Woods Metro Park in Westerville, Ohio has a fun Nature Center, trails for hiking, a Natural Play Area and great birdwatching opportunities!

This summer I am on a quest to explore as many Metro Parks as we can. One crazy morning we did two! We started out at the playground at Rocky Fork and then headed to Blendon Woods.

One thing about the Metro Parks here in Columbus is that they open up a totally different world. So many times we end up somewhere and find myself saying, “wow, I didn’t know this was here!” And even though you’re less than 20 miles from downtown Columbus, you can walk through the woods and all of a sudden stumble upon something that makes you feel like you’re somewhere far away. That’s how I felt at Blendon Woods!

Here are some of the fun things to explore at Blendon Woods:

1. The Nature Center

Nature Center at Blendon Woods Metro Park

Nature Center

We started this visit out at the Nature Center! Right away, we headed straight for the back where there is a wildlife viewing room. Luckily for us, there was a wild turkey right outside the window and a squirrel doing acrobatics from the feeder! There are binoculars available for long distance viewing.

turkey in the woods outside the Nature Center

two boys birdwatching at the Nature Center

Birdwatching at the Nature Center

There are a lot of mounted animals on display inside the center.

mounted animals inside the Nature Center

Mounted Animals Inside the Nature Center

books and mounted birds inside the Nature Center

inside the Nature at Blendon Woods

There is a separate room where there were some activities for kids, nature books (for adults and children), more mounted animals and also live animals like fish, turtles and a snake!

fish inside a fish tank

mounted fox and other animals

Inside the Nature Center

More mounted animals inside the Nature Center

a bowl of crayons for kids to color

boy making leaf prints

Activities Inside the Nature Center

Here you could make crayon rubbings of different kinds of leaves. There were other nature activities for children and cards with animal paw prints on them to match up with the various mounted animals in the room.

crafts for kids inside the Nature Center

Puzzles and Crafts Inside the Nature Center

Probably the biggest hit with my kids were the “please touch” containers. Even in the Metro Parks, I’ve found the there can be a lot of “don’t touch” and “don’t walk here” situations, so the fact that my kids could freely explore interesting objects like feathers and antlers and turtle shells was a lot of fun for them!

boy playing with items found in Nature

The Please Touch Boxes

boy playing with items found in Nature

I pretty much had to tear them away from the “please touch” buckets and out the door, down the path toward the waterfowl refuge.

2. The Walden Waterfowl Refuge

sign to the Walden Waterfowl Refuge

Read More: 5 Cool Outdoor Activities for Kids in the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks

two boys walking down a path at Blendon Woods Metro Park

When you get to the fork in the road, choose one of these paths . . . we ended up doing both!

sign with directions within the park

This is a must do! Here is a great example of walking down a wooded path, not knowing what to expect, and then all of a sudden being amazed at what you find. I guess I’m about to ruin that experience for you by showing you pictures 😉 but in case you’re like me and you get to this:

boy on the path to the bird watching area

. . . and you think maybe this is just some storage area or ranger station closed off to the general public, and are tempted to turn around, like I was, I’m telling you to keep going inside! And see this:

waterfowl area for birdwatching

Inside each of the two shelters, there are viewing windows, a telescope and some open-air slots for viewing wildlife and birds. It was peaceful and I could have stood there staring for quite some time. But my kids weren’t quite as patient.

viewing area with binoculars inside the birdwatching area

heron sitting on a bird feeder

Maybe someone can tell me what kind of bird that is in the picture above? 🙂

birds and squirrels feeding at bird feeder

After we walked back down the path and to our car, we drove to one of the playgrounds. There are a couple of them and this one is on the west side by the Natural Play Area. My kids loved the wire tunnels to crawl through.

3. Playground

playground area at Blendon Woods

boys inside playground equipment

Within walking distance of the playground is the Natural Play Area where kids can freely roam in the creek and woods, and be free to play. 

4. Natural Play Area

The Natural Play Area at Blendon Woods is one of the more “developed” Natural Play areas in all of the Metro Parks. There are lots of things for kids to do including rope climbing, a swing, and more!

Lots of kids playing in the Natural Play Area at Blendon Woods

As you follow the path, you will come across lots of natural elements where kids can get creative. 

boy playing in a stick fort at the Natural Play Area

Natural Play Area

boy on a wooden bridge

two boys on a wooden bridge across the creek

The Zip Line is one of the most popular elements! My kids aren’t quite brave enough for this ride yet but they’re getting there! Kids must be 5 years old to ride.

Zugaro Zip Line at Blendon Woods Natural Play Area

Zip Line within the Natural Play Area

Another popular element within the Natural Play Area is the creek! Bring your own buckets and shovels (and an extra change of clothes!) for scooping and exploring!

boy playing in the creek at Blendon Woods

Creeking!

Blendon Woods Metro Park has a lot of free programs available to the community. Throughout the week there are preschool programs, yoga classes for adults and activities for grade schoolers. I have had varying experiences with the programs for kids at the Metro Parks, some are welcoming of younger siblings tagging along and others are not, so I would recommend giving them a call if you have any questions about attending.

Check out this map of all of the Metro Parks! I encourage you to take advantage of all our great Metro Park system has to offer!

Know Before You Go:

Blendon Woods Metro Park
Address: 4265 E. Dublin-Granville Road Westerville, OH 43081
Hours: 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM, April through September, 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM, October through March
Phone: 614-620-1861
Nature Center Phone: 614-895-6221

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ICYMI: 12 Columbus Parks to Try This Summer

Need even more ideas: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

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Exploring Blendon Woods Metro Park with Kids


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A Day on the Farm: 5 Things to do at Stratford Ecological Center

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A friend and I took our kids to Stratford Ecological Center one afternoon in early June. It was a bright sunny day which made for a beautiful 30 minute drive to Delaware County. I took my oldest son, who, on the drive, became obsessed with the idea of being in the woods  (though he kept calling it “the wood,” as in, “are we in the wood now mommy?”) I think what he really meant was “wow, look at all these trees!” And when we turned into the driveway for the center it looked like this:

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And then yes, I could definitively say we were in “the woods”.  😉 We drove back through the property and arrived at the visitor’s center. Though the property managed by the Stratford Ecological Center is 236 acres, we spent about two hours just wandering through the small, educational farm. When visiting, you’re free to roam about the property at your own pace. Here are 5 things you can do!

1. Visit the animals in the barn

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The day we visited, there was a farm camp for kids going on. These camps are week-long day camps for kids ages 3-12. We got in on a goat-milking session with some of the kids.  (haha – no pun intended. 😉 )

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In the barn, there were also goats, sheep, a llama and a few barn cats that the kids went crazy trying to pet. Outside the barn, there were cows in the pasture, chickens and baby chicks, a rooster, a rabbit, and a mama with her baby goats.

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(I swear, the wearing of the tractor shirt was a total coincidence, I’m not THAT coordinated!)

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This is the famous unfriendly rooster. (That’s what the sign says, I’m not just being mean.) It’s famous at our house because whenever we talk about the farm, this is pretty much always what Jaden brings up. These are the things that leave impressions on kids!

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2. Walk out to the pond

Make sure you take a walk out to the pond. We got directions from the friendly staff inside the visitor’s center. It’s a short walk, though this path looks like it could go on forever!

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We saw birds and tadpoles and we could hear frogs croaking around the pond.

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It was beautiful and peaceful.

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As a bonus, there are lots of farm machines/equipment to see on the way down the path!

3. Pick your own fruits and vegetables

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Since we visited in early June, the only crops available for picking were various kinds of lettuce. But throughout the growing season, you can pick and purchase your own organic fruits and vegetables grown here in the garden. Inside the center you can also purchase eggs, meat, honey and seasonal maple syrup. Anything that is not purchased is donated to People In Need, a Delaware food bank.

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4. Dig in dirt

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I’ll be honest, of all the things on the farm, this was probably the most fun for Jaden. He loves to dig in the dirt and there is a small shed full of shovels, rakes and hoes and a huge pile of dirt with a sign that says, “dig here,” which is pretty much every little boy’s dream!

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5. Attend a story time or family program

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We weren’t at the farm during any special programing so I can’t tell you personally about this, but the center does offer a story time on the second Tuesday of each month, March through November ($5/family). On the second Saturday of the month, your family can participate in chores around the farm from 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM ($12/family). There are other special events scheduled this fall as well, so check out the event calendar here.

This is an outing is one you can totally do at your own (or your kids’) pace. The farm, garden, pasture and pond are all fairly close to each other so it’s doable even for small children (though not stroller friendly). Let me know what your kids enjoy doing on the farm!

Know Before You Go:

Stratford Ecological Center
Address: 3083 Liberty Rd., Delaware, OH 43015
Phone: 740-363-2548

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Saturday: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Visitors are encouraged to give a $3 donation per person or $6 per family.

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ICYMI: Your #newmain Library: Sneak Peek


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